Favorites are back, at long last*, and so am I. Here goes:
The Cooper Hewitt Design Museum reopened almost a year ago after an extensive renovation. While art reflects the world back to us through different viewpoints, design stays focused on creating tangible solutions to identifiable problems in the present-day world. With it’s inaugural year of foundation setting exhibits (Tools for Survival, Living, etc; Industrial Design 101, etc) almost over, I’m hoping to see shows that explore how design can help solve the large-scale challenges in healthcare, food supply, economic development, transportation, and environmental sustainability that are so prevalent today.
One venue you’d think might explore these topics is the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) here in New York City. But since MAD seems not to have recognized the opportunity to step up as a design destination during the Cooper-Hewitt’s three year absence (three years!), this is unlikely. MAD confuses me – despite the name, I’m not clear about the museums focus or what audience it attracts with niche shows about, for example, fashion mannequins and 3D printing. Does the museum have a programming problem, a marketing problem, or both? Obviously a visit is in order. Stay tuned.
As always, there’s a robust art offering in NYC this Fall; here are five shows farther afield that are on my radar:
New Objectivity: Modern German Art in the Weimar Republic, 1919–1933
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, October 4, 2015 – January 18, 2016
Within a Realm of Distance, Laurence Weiner at Blenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace, October 10 – December 20, 2015
Class Distinctions: Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer
Boston Museum of Fine Arts, October 11, 2015 – January 18, 2016
Asia > Amsterdam: Luxury in the Golden Age
Rijksmusem, October 17, 2015 – January 17, 2016
Peabody Essex Museum, February 27 – June 4, 2016
Habsburg Splendor: Masterpieces from Vienna’s Imperial Collections
High Museum of Art, October 18, 2015 – January 16, 2016 (Atlanta)
Productions of Wolf Hall/Bring up the Bodies, from the books by Hilary Mantel, were on Broadway and television this Spring. I’m a fan, so I watched all versions. Neither was successful in reproducing the hovering darkness felt throughout the books, but the Broadway production was a wonderful theater experience. Why are we still talking about Wolf Hall, you ask? Because the third and final Cromwell book, The Mirror and the Light, is due out in the next several years. In a recent lecture at the Frick Collection, where the famous Hans Holbein portraits of her two main characters, Thomas Cromwell and Thomas More, hang, Mantel spoke about how she selected the much maligned Cromwell from history and developed him as a modern anti-hero for the books. Watch Mantel’s talk here.
For theater going though, nothing tops Hamilton. Everything you’ve read is true, it really is that good. And if you can’t make it in person, the magnificent cast album covers the entire play less one short spoken exchange. Listen to it while browsing the lyric annotations on Genius, and you’ll get a taste of the greatness. I’ll put together a compilation of the best reads on Hamilton here soon.
I have started up a reading list again because otherwise it’s a steady stream of hit-or-miss mysteries around here. That said, if the mystery genre appeals then you will want to subscribe to the excellent The Crime Lady, “a weekly-ish newsletter about crime fiction and true crime, current and long-ago releases,” from Sarah Weinman.
Next up on my list is Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I’ve been following Coates for a few years and find him insightful as well as challenging. Read his lovely essay on the death of his good friend and mentor, David Carr of the New York Times, to learn more about Coates and his unlikely path to becoming a best-selling author.
The Blue Garden in Newport, Rhode Island, is a new discovery. This 1908 Olmsted Brothers-designed garden has been meticulously restored and, though private, is open by appointment Thursdays from June through early October. Have any of you visited this garden? I plan to go next year.
Finally, if you are in NYC this Saturday (October 17th) do take advantage of this tour of the Alice in a World of Wonderlands exhibition at the Grolier Club, led by Connie Brown of Redstone Studios. Brown was commissioned to create four original maps for the exhibition, one of which is pictured above. Read about the tour here.
- I had no plans to take such a long break. It’s good to be back!